NFC West Free Agent Grades and Draft Needs
Total Pro Sports – Maybe I’m being a little presumptuous, but when was the last time free agency was this good? So many moves it makes me cry and we haven’t even drafted yet. Expect players to move on draft day – I’m looking at you Braylon Edwards, Jason Peters and Anquan Boldin – but here are some pre-draft grades for each team’s offseason activity so far.
Free Agency: Upgrades along the line, a running back and a pass rush specialist were sought after, but none of these needs were really addressed. No one had more than 5 sacks in the regular season, and the distinct lack of 4-3 DEs on the market wasn’t fun for Arizone front office. In fact, they lost from their front 4 as Antonio Smith became a Texan, however he didn’t really perform until the playoffs. Mediocre play until the playoffs, isn’t that true for the whole Cardinal D? Warner re-signed, but if the Cardinals had managed to talk him out of the door then God save us all. Now do the same for Boldin.
Draft Needs: You get the feeling they were planning on raiding the draft for lineman and a RB anyway, but I don’t see a dominant pass rusher available at 31 or 63 without reaching. Moreno or Wells followed by the position versatile Jonathan Luigs in the second would be a dream for Cardinal management.
San Francisco 49ers
Free Agency: What year aren’t the 49ers looking for a top WR, a reliable QB and an effective pass rush? They responded by overpaying average talent at best; can we all agree ex-Titan Brandon Jones is a pretty lame receiver? How about QB Damon Huard? DE Demetric Evans helps against the run, but adds little pass rush in their 3-4.
Grade: C- – They’re waiting for the draft
Draft Needs: If they want Mark Sanchez they’ll have to trade up, and it’s worth considering that new coaching regimes – which this effectively is – tend towards a new QB. That said, Everette Brown would be the sack specialist they want and Michael Oher is an option at LT if Staley slides to the right. Singletary’s “I want winners” policy rules out Andre Smith.
Free Agency: That secondary went from dominant to horrible in one season, and no defensive backs have been added so far. It looks like Seattle have given up on the run completely, as they lost one of the top fullbacks in the league Leonard Weaver and offloaded a talented backup in Maurice Morris. San Diego did this 12 months ago and it killed LT’s season, so what will it do to a bad running back like Julius Jones? If they’re going to pass they need more targets, making Houshmandzadeh a jackpot signing. They also decided to trade Julian Peterson for Cory Redding and a 5th, but I don’t know about that. Seattle fans may taste the bitter flavour of regret next year for that move.
Grade: D – Mixed bag
Draft Needs: 2 picks in the top 4 – yes it’s still the NFC Worst. I debated this pick with TPS draft guru Chad Ellis and he’s set on Monroe, whilst I favour the playmaking ability of Michael Crabtree. It’s one or the other, but if you think Walter Jones can go another year I’m not spending the 4th pick on a player who’ll sit for a year. The best defensive back must be taken atop of the second; Sean Smith can play corner or safety.
St. Louis Rams
Free Agency: St. Louis hit the reset switch by cutting veterans Holt and Pace, which I actually like. You don’t ask the injury prone Marc Bulger to throw to inexperienced receivers in a brand new scheme all game, when you have a top 3 RB when healthy. They added a talented young center in Jason Brown and a top run blocker in Mike Karney at FB so look set to feed Steven Jackson the ball 25 times a game, a clever move from this organization. They preserved their secondary and held onto the exciting Ronald Bartell, but let’s be honest; the Rams still have holes all over the field.
Draft Needs: Left tackle with either Jason Smith or Eugene Monroe, end of discussion. After that they can go best available to fill the holes left in their side; aka every other position.